Edinburgh boss Richard Cockerill slams behaviour of Covid-storm Edinburgh academy players who "let the team down"

Head coach angry at “distraction” of one coronavirus test and three others self-isolating but doesn’t blame it for loss at Bordeaux-Begles in Euro quarter-final
Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill said the youth players involved will "learn a lesson". Picture: Ross Parker/SRU/SNSEdinburgh coach Richard Cockerill said the youth players involved will "learn a lesson". Picture: Ross Parker/SRU/SNS
Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill said the youth players involved will "learn a lesson". Picture: Ross Parker/SRU/SNS

Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill admitted he had been personally distracted by the situation back home where an academy player has tested positive for coronavirus and three others self-isolating after allegedly attending a house party but refused to blame it for the 23-14 defeat by Bordeaux-Begles in France.

The club announced the positive test on Friday and said the SRU would deal with any suspected discipline breach “extremely seriously” just as the senior squad was en route to Bordeaux for the European Challenge Cup quarter-final and the coach slammed the players involved for “letting themselves and the team down”.

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“It was no distraction to the performance today, but it was a distraction to me and people up the chain because we have to deal with the situation, which is disappointing,” said the coach.

“I’m disappointed by the players’ behaviour. We live in a world where you can contract Covid-19 from anything. But as long as we’re all doing exactly what we say we’re going to do, working within the protocols both as general public and professional rugby players, if someone contracts it, that’s just life in the world we live in at the moment.

“The disappointing thing for me is that players involved knew exactly what they should and shouldn’t do, and they chose to do something they shouldn’t.

“Young men do what young men do and they’re going to have to learn that lesson, but it’s far from ideal.”

Cockerill added: “They’ve let down the whole team, simple as that. They know how they should behave, they know all the things that have been put in place to get games to be played and crowds in the stadium. I’m disappointed that they chose to ignore it because those rules didn’t apply to them.

“It’s wrong, but it’s being dealt with. Thankfully there was no effect on the first team and we could come and play today but I’m not particularly happy with that type of behaviour.”

Cockerill lamented a sluggish start which allowed the star-studded Bordeaux side an early 14 points. Edinburgh responded and made a fight of it with a finely constructed Damien Hoyland try, assisted by great touchline work by Darcy Graham, but had left themselves too much to do and a season which started on 28 September 2019 finally came to a close.

“We had a really poor start,” said the coach. “You can’t give a side like that 14 points. If you look at the scoreboard at the end, we rallied well and put ourselves in contention to win the game. We tried to do that, but we made the odd error, which is normal.

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“The effort and the composure we showed to get back in the game, be competitive and push to actually win the game was credit to all the players.

“You have to be careful and be realistic about where we’re at when we’re playing at this level in this company. Against Ulster, we should have won the game, we’re a good enough team and we didn’t deliver.

“Today, it was always going to be a tough task because they’re a very good side with very good players. Their budget and the depth in their squad is far greater than ours.

“Where Bordeaux sit, the budget they spend compared to our budget and how we go about our business, in some ways it’s poles apart. You’re not comparing apples with apples.

“I’m disappointed, because I always want to win but we need to be really careful and realistic about where we are. We’re heading in the direction: they were happy to get away with winning which is great for our guys and showed how much we have improved.”

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